Review: Gay’s Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxanne Gay

A gut punch, a wake up call, a deeply effecting book about race, sexual assault, food, immigration, class, writing, love and America. Really a must read.

I’m someone who cares deeply about health and fitness.  I struggle to make the right food choices, and hit the gym, but my personal issues are put into stark relief as the cloying bullshit problems of a privileged white dude when held against Gays heartrending and inspiring story.

This is a story of growing up the child of immigrants, of suffering horrible sexual assault, and struggling with that, and more. Its about coping with lives horrors with food, both for comfort and protection.

It’s also the story of a powerful writer finding her voice through years of work and struggle and missteps and luck.

It is near perfectly written in Gay’s direct to the jugular style.

I couldn’t put it down.

You might not think of yourself as the kind of person who would read a memoir that is, at least ostensibly, about weight problems, but really it is about so much more. And you are the kind of person who reads important, powerful, books and you should read this one.

Recommended.

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Fasting Mimicking Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s the actual fasting mimicking diet (FMD).

Day 1. Consume 1,100 calories

  • 500 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 500 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • 25 grams of plant-based protein (ideally from nuts)
  • Unlimited water

Days 2-5 consume 800 calories

  • 400 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 400 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • Unlimited water

Day 6 Transition Diet

For 24 hours following the end of the five-day FMD eat a diet based on complex carbs (veggies, cereals, pasta, rice, bread, fruit, etc.) and minimize fish, meat, saturated fats, pastries, cheese, milk, etc.)

It’s worth noting that there are some standard side effects of the FMD, these include:

  • Feeling weak during parts of the fast
  • Light or average intensity headaches
  • Slight back ache

OBVIOUSLY, STOP AND SEE A GODDAMN DOCTOR IF THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL

Most people feel hungry during the first few days of the FMD, but the effect is usually greatly reduced by day 4 or 5.

 

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Exercise

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s exercise.

  1. Walk fast for an hour everyday. I’m lucky to live in New York City and have begun walking to and from subway stops a bit further from my office and taking at least half an hour out of most days to get outside during the work day. I realize this might be harder in other environments. If you have any tips, leave ‘em in the comments.
  1. Ride, Run or swim thirty to forty minutes every other day plus two hours on the weekend. Longo recommends cycling, which I do, but those who follow this site know running is my passion. I often do significantly more running and cycling than this, which Longo might look askance at. But hey, ya gotta live (and BQ).
  1. Use your muscles. I’ve got a heavy ball in my office with which I do various exercises throughout the day. I also make a habit of pushups and pull ups at least three times a week. When I can, I try to get to the gym in the basement and just fool around. You should do these things too.

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

 

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s diet.

  1. Eat a plant based diet, plus some fish. Keep fish consumption to no more than two or three times per week. Choose fish, crustaceans, and mollusks with high Omega-3, Omega-6 and vitamin b-12 content such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, sea bream, trout, clams, and shrimp. Minimize eating other animals, such as beef, chicken and pork and other animal products such as milk and cheese. (Note that this says minimize. I will on occasion indulge in meat or cheese if it would be rude to do otherwise, or if my wife insists on the duck ragu dish at the local Italian spot.)

 

  1. If you’re under 65, like me, keep your protein intake low. (0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). Most of us aren’t going to do these protein calculations on a regular basis, but it’s worth doing once or twice to get a sense. Consume beans and other legumes as main source of protein. Those beyond age 65 should increase protein intake and consider re-introducing some animal protein.

 

  1. Endeavor to get most of your vitamins and minerals from food, but buffer with a multivitamin every 3 days.

 

  1. Based on your weight, age, and abdominal circumference, decide whether to have two or three meals per day. I tend to gain weight very easily so I am eating two meals a day plus two low sugar snacks of less than 100 calories. Longo recommends eating breakfast and either lunch or dinner. That doesn’t work for me, so I’m eating a breakfast snack and then lunch and dinner.

 

  1. Confine all eating to within a twelve-hour window. Don’t eat anything within three or four hours of bedtime. (I do this, mostly, but make exceptions for family events that fall outside the window.)

 

  1. Until age 65-70 depending on weight and frailty, undergo five days of fasting mimicking diet every one to six months, based on your goals and, if possible, medical advice.

NB:

Longo also recommends eating as your ancestors did, which, while it makes sense evolutionarily, (and is nice for Longo himself since he’s Italian) my ancestors lived on a rocky island in the North Atlantic and ate basically potatoes and blood sausage, so nope. Not gonna do that.

Reset: diet

Here is what my blood tests, DNA tests, and time on the toilet all tell me:

  • If not entirely allergic to, I am at least highly sensitive to dairy and gluten
  • I gain weight easily, especially when eating a diet high in saturated fats.
  • I need significantly more fiber than i get on the diet I have become used to.

With all this in mind, I will very likely do well on a diet high in fruits and vegetables, with some meat and fish, and little to no gluten or dairy.

In theory, these guidelines are easy to follow and not particularly restrictive. But in practice, I have found modifying my diet to be an enormous challenge. Like many, I eat not only for survival, but socially, and (dare I say it?) for comfort. Coming to the point where I eat the salad at the dinner party, but skip the cured meats, or turn to a cup of tea (and not a bag of chips) to calm me after a stressful day is, and probably always will be, hard. That isn’t an excuse to not try to be more present in my food making decisions. There’s no need to be doctrinaire (and in fact, doctrinate may be unhelpful) but it is important to be thoughtful, avoiding the bad and favoring the good.

Attention to my diet is likely to be the health struggle of my life. Given the time, I’d work out all day. Exercise has always been a joy to me. But food, food is something else, something harder,

 

62 day challenge Day 8: Easy monday

Day 8 done, 54 days to go.

Reflection: I’m starting to really like Monday nights. 3 miles, very easy, on the treadmill then push-ups, some light weight lifting, and some stretching. All very easy, all very enjoyable. Reminds me why I love the gym.

Eating is going… ok. I find the fruit in the morning a struggle and am caving to my comfort food, chips, way too often. Time to change that.

 

Daily Weight 178.2 (weight, why you no move?)
Breakfast ½ avocado, 1 bananna, 1 apple
Lunch Pret nori sandwich, bag of chips, diet coke
Dinner Chicken curry with white rice. One beer
Run: 3 miles in 36:13
Bike: 0
Swim: 0
Strength/ Flexibility: 15:00
100 push-ups (20,20,10,20,15,10,5)
Total Exercise Time(day/week) ~00:50:00/00:50:00
Mediation: 5:00
Steps (goal/actual) 13134/15154

62 Day Challenge: Day 4 Not Everyday Is Interesting

Reflection: Another long day of work and social engagements (PURIM PARTY!), but got the miles in and stuck to the diet. Not everyday is interesting. In fact, most days won’t be.

Day 3 done, 60 days to go.

Daily Weight 179.2 (weight, why you no move?)
Breakfast ½ avocado, 1 cup of strawberries
Lunch Hummus and tomato sandwich, fritos, diet coke. (I know, I know, I eat way too many chips)
Dinner Salmon with sweet potatoes and green beans. Apple tart. Boulevardier
Run: 5.25 miles in 51:39
Bike: 0
Swim: 0
Strength/ Flexibility: 5:00
100 push-ups (22,18,10,20,20,10)
Total Exercise Time(day/week) ~1:00:00/2:30:00
Mediation: 5:00
Steps (goal/actual) 12424/18555